Use the wrists more to strike pitch shots better with this tip.
A pitch shot is a high lofted golf shot where the ball is situated fairly close to the green, somewhere between 20-80 yards away for most golfers. The length of the shot proves difficult as the golfer cannot make a full swing for fear of over hitting, but the hole is too far away to play the easier but more conservative low running chip shot. There may also be an obstacle in the way such as some mounds or a bunker which means that the ball needs to fly over these obstacles but still stop on the green.
Golfers struggle with short pitch shots due to two reasons:
1. Not striking downwards through the golf ball which gives the golfer a consistent, solid strike. Usually caused by the golfer trying to 'scoop' the ball up into the air.
2. Decelerating into the golf ball rather than attacking it. Often caused by the fear of hitting the ball too far.
Both of these problems usually culminate in poorly struck shots, either ‘topping’ the golf ball, where the top of the ball is struck with the bottom of the golf club, or ‘fatting’ the golf ball where the ground is hit first and the ball is only moved a few feet forwards.
To eliminate these two factors, the golfer needs to create a steeper downward action into the golf ball. A steep action means that the club head will be delivered to the ball in a downwards direction, contacting the ball first on it's way down into the ground and eventually taking a divot (a chunk of grass) after contact with the ball. This makes sure that the ball is struck correctly and forces the ball to ride up the loft of the golf club and into the air. A steeper action also lets the golfer attack the ball in a very positive way using the hands to accelerate through the golf ball and so stopping any ‘quitting’ on the shot.
To gain a steeper action into the ball use the wrists more in the backswing. After setting up for a pitch shot, take the club away from the ball turning the shoulders to power the motion. As the shoulders begin to turn ‘set’ the wrists early. This means that the wrists should hinge to 90 degrees (the angle is measured between the front forearm and golf club shaft) as soon as possible during the takeaway movement. Although the shoulders power the movement, the wrists pick the club up away from the ball sharply allowing the club to be brought back down into the ball in a steep fashion. When driving back down into the ball, use the bottom hand on the golf club (right for right handed golfers and left for left handed golfers) to drive down into the floor aggressively. Feel that the palm of the bottom hand pushes the club head through the ball and then into the ground in a very downward, forward action. This is a very positive motion and will stop any deceleration in the downward part of the swing.
An exercise to help achieve this steep action is to position a tee approximately two inches behind the ball to be hit. Then set up to the ball and hit the pitch shot. Make sure that during the shot the club is lifted up and driven down and through the golf ball without touching the tee peg behind it. If the tee is contacted at any point, the wrists are not being used in a steep enough action and the pitch shots will vary in strike and consistency.
Control the wrists and consistent pitches will save shots on the golf course.